At least one student-athlete from each Association school will blog about a UAA basketball road weekend this season.
Sydney Sodine, Brandeis University
I’m Sydney Sodine, a senior on the Brandeis University women’s basketball team majoring in Business and History. I grew up on Long Island, so naturally I have a deep love for bagels, Chinese food, and pizza (Long Island is undoubtedly the best place for all three in the country.) Now that you know everything important about me, I’m writing this post to share with you my experiences with the best team I could ever imagine on a UAA travel trip. I hope you enjoy!
Thursday Jan 26th:
For the rest of my teammates, the day began with 8 a.m. practice at Brandeis. For me, the day began at 7:15 a.m. in the athletic training room with ice on my ankle after rolling it during last night's practice. Nonetheless, we were all off the court at 10 a.m. taking quick showers, then running to the dining hall and Dunkin’ Donuts before the bus ride to the airport at 11:30 a.m. Once at the gate, I experienced some major deja vu. I quickly realized it was because I was at the same exact gate, on a UAA travel trip, a week ago. So, as I did last Thursday, I took out my laptop, connected to WiFi and made sure all my readings and assignments were downloaded so that I could do homework on the plane.
The flight from Boston to Atlanta was bumpy, but we made it! While in the air, I was able to read and analyze a case study for a business class I am enrolled in which, unfortunately, I was unable to attend today. Missing classes because of travel can be frustrating, but luckily I have great classmates who share notes with me. We arrived to the hotel in Atlanta around 6 p.m., and had team dinner reservations for 7 p.m. Everyone quickly dropped their luggage in their rooms and met back in the lobby. This trip I’m rooming with Julia, a freshman from Florida who is most likely to be found in the weight room or on a sushi date with yours truly. At 6:45 p.m. the team was back on the bus and on the way to team dinner at Maggiano’s. Coach Simon challenged the team to stay off our cell phones for the bus ride. Obviously, we rose to the challenge. I don't think Coach realized challenging us to stay off our phones would lead to us attempting to form an accapella group… let's just say we should stick to basketball and stay far away from singing.
Dinner was great, we all ate far too much bread and pasta so before the check came out everyone was falling into food comas. Thankfully for our amazing bus driver Charles, everyone was too exhausted to continue singing on bus ride back to the hotel. Julia and I got to our room around 9 p.m. Since then I’ve able to review notes from the three classes I missed today and complete some of the reading assigned for a history course I am taking this semester. It’s now 11 p.m., which is team curfew and time for me to get in bed to rest up for a big game against Emory tomorrow.
Friday Jan 27th:
Today was thankfully a much later start with a quick shoot-around at 11:00 a.m. at Emory. I was awake by 8:30 a.m. to do some readings for class since I wouldn't have much time for school work throughout the rest of the day. Shoot around was short and sweet; we were done by noon and got on the bus back to the hotel.
At around 1:30, my day got a million times better because my mom and aunt arrived to the hotel! My mom flew down from New York and my aunt flew up from Miami to see me play today. The three of us had enough time to sit down for lunch and (most importantly) Starbucks by the hotel. Afterwards, I quickly saw the team athletic trainer and my personal savior, Coach Ron, so he could fix me since my body might be falling apart. At that point it was almost 4 o'clock so I quickly got my things together and got on the bus to go back to Emory for our 6 p.m. tip-off.
Unfortunately, the game didn’t go our way and we lost. Tonight was the first time my aunt was able to attend a game of mine since high school. Needless to say, it was a special game for me and I’m extremely lucky to have such amazing family members who are willing to travel so far to watch me play. In spite of the loss, we all quickly showered and went up to the dinner social, where we ate with the women on Emory’s team. I remember as a freshman I thought the concept of sitting down with your competitor after a game was so weird and, I must admit, I hated it. As a senior, I really enjoy the socials, even though they are tough after a loss. It’s pretty cool to have the opportunity to talk to fellow UAA student-athletes and share our experiences. A lot of us were recruited by other UAA schools, some of us were almost teammates, and by senior year we all know each other from scouting reports and previous games. It’s a unique experience to share a meal with your competitor, which I have definitely come to appreciate.
Because my family was at the game, I did not eat at the social and ate dinner with my mom and aunt. Thanks to a great recommendation from Coach Thomaskutty, we went to Ponce City Market and had an amazing meal at Brezza Cucina. One of the best things about playing in the UAA is the ability to travel to different cities around the country and go to places, like Ponce City Market, that I would never go to otherwise. I got back to the hotel at 10:15 p.m. and packed and got ready for bed. Tomorrow is going to be an early/never-ending day.
Saturday Jan 28th:
Julia and I woke up at 6:45 a.m. so we could make it to breakfast at 7 since the bus left at 7:45. The 14 of us ate together, silently, since we were all basically asleep. I quickly ran up to my mom and aunt’s hotel room to say goodbye, then got on the bus to the airport. Our flight took off at 10:30 a.m. so we had a little bit of time. Most of us were scattered around the gate on our laptops doing homework until we boarded the plane on the way to Rochester.
Photos, L: Welcome sign at Maria Jackson's home; R: Sydney Sodine with Julia St. Amand
We got to Rochester, the home of our teammate Maria Stonewall Jackson, at around 12:30 p.m. and were greeted by Maria’s amazing parents. Getting off of a plane and being hugged by a member of the extended Brandeis Women's Basketball (BWB) family reminds me of how lucky I am to be on such a close-knit team. Straight from the airport we went to the University of Rochester for a film session and practice. Since there was no time to get food in the airport, my coaches had food delivered to the school for us. After practice the team quickly went to the hotel to shower then got back on the bus to go to the Jackson’s house!
Going to the Jackson’s has been a tradition since I was a freshman and it is basically the best night of the year. After being at school since December 26th and this being the second away weekend in a row, I can’t begin to express how comforted we felt and happy we were being in a real home. I say this every year, Maria’s parents should seriously have their own show on the Food Network. They made an amazing dinner for us consisting of salad, fruit salad, chicken parm, baked ziti, and garlic bread. After dinner, everyone piled up on the couch and played speak out. We all looked absolutely ridiculous with the mouthpieces in but if there is a group of people I don’t mind looking crazy around it is hands down my teammates. To top off the amazing dinner, Maria’s mom made the best brownies ever. I had at least four of them and by the time we left I felt more full than I did on Thanksgiving!
Photo: Dinner at the Jackson home
After dinner we went back to the hotel. Some of us had some down time and decided to play card games with members of the men’s team, while others took over the hotel lobby to work on homework assignments. By 10:00 p.m., everyone was in their hotel rooms for curfew at 11 p.m. Julia and just finished I laying out our uniforms and packing our bags together to get ready for tomorrow's game.
Sunday Jan 30th:
Today began with a great team breakfast at the hotel at 9:30 a.m. From there some of my teammates stayed in the lobby to do homework, but I went back up to my hotel room to send a few e-mails and FaceTime a classmate to quickly discuss a reading for class. At 10:45 a.m. my teammates and I grabbed all of our things and got on the bus to watch the men play at 11 a.m., and for our game at 1 p.m.
We fell to Rochester, but luckily we get to see both teams we played this weekend next weekend at home. We quickly showered in the locker room and got on the bus to head to the Buffalo airport, which is an hour away from the University of Rochester. The bus ride was silent since about half of the players were sound asleep and the other half were doing homework. We got to our gate with two hours to waste time so my teammates, members of the men's team, and I found a restaurant we could all sit down in and grab dinner. From there we still had an hour to spare before boarding at 6:50 p.m. so I finished up my homework assignments for the weekend. Now I’m on the plane headed back to Boston. According to the lovely and detailed itinerary Coach Simon created for the team, I should arrive to Brandeis at 9:30 p.m.
Although this weekend did not go the way I would have liked on the court, I still had an amazing time with my team, the men's team, both coaching staffs, and family. As you can tell, travel weekends are jam packed with basketball, team activities, and homework so at times they can become overwhelming. But, I am so blessed to have the opportunity to play for Brandeis and in the UAA. Now that I am in my final semester, I can confidently say some of my best memories from college will come from traveling for basketball and all of my best memories involve BWB. I hope you enjoyed reading about how Brandeis Women’s Basketball does a UAA travel trip.
Sydney Sodine, a senior forward, has started all 18 games this season for the Judges. She is averaging 7.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Sodine is active in the Brandeis Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was one of three Brandeis representatives at the UAA SAAC weekend during the summer.